The Acentos Review - Youth


Xochitl-julisa Bermejo


Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is a teacher, poet, and native Angelino. She is the creator and curator of Beyond Baroque’s monthly reading series HITCHED, a founding editor of The Splinter Generation, and was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Award. Her work has been published in The Los Angeles Review, PALABRA, CALYX, and Umbrella Journal. Photo credit: Richard Priest II

Nobody Wanted a Mountain to Hate Him

If one man killed another in a battle

he would quickly turn away

from the man’s sacred mountain

before the mountain saw his face.

--Byrd Baylor

If one man conquers another’s land,

he quickly turns away from new borders

scratched in sand so as not to look

into the eyes of those he means to forget.

Nobody cares if he is hated, or maybe

it’s better to say, it is impossible to be hated

by what no longer exists.

What was once sacred no longer exists.

I once climbed a sacred mountain and rested

at a pass known only as Dead Man’s.

Dead Man should consider building a fence

around his pass if it is truly his and he means to keep it.

Nobody wants to be without

one free pass, especially a dead man. 

Nobody battles and kills many things

he never learned how to hold.

The face of the mountain scowls at what

has happened to its land. The sheer granite

face of the mountain erodes, erasing

all emotion because it is tired of hating.

The sheer number of dead men is enough

to make any mountain turn its back.

I Didn’t Know I could Love the Desert

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Maybe I always heard the desert calling my name

in the middle of the night keeping me restless.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t know I could love,

I was grumpy from lack of sleep.

I didn’t know I would want to hug the rounded cholla.

Cholla, if I could I would sew a felt and string teddy bear version of you

with stubby arms and purple flowers to hug at night.

You look so full and content.

I didn’t know cactus could be content.

I didn’t know cactus had more then one name: barrel, cholla,

nopal, saguaro. I have yet to write a poem for the saguaro!

The tall and proud saguaro honoring the sun with outstretched arms.

I love outstretched arms!

I love to dance with arms stretched out to the sky.

Arms feel light like that.

Sometimes I wish arms never had to come down.

I do not love the come down

and hangovers that demolish the brain

leaving trembles in hands like after a bombing.

I shouldn’t compare Sunday morning wrecks to world destruction,

but I can’t help being a narcissist now and again.

The wind kicks up dust and little white bits of soft dream.

I want to float on one of those bits escaped

from the branches of a cottonwood.

I want to be a bit of white soft nothing floating between junipers

at sunset free to lift all the last bits of light.

In Arizona there is nothing light and delicate.

But sometimes in the middle of a heat stroked day,

there can be laughter. I love laughter.

Tanya found a cross color Rasta hat in a black hefty bag

of donated clothes from old church ladies.

She put it on and did a little jig in Byrd camp.

She momentarily forgot border patrol trucks patrolling the road

just outside our gate.

I momentarily forgot just being with Tanya was a crime.

And we laughed— just a little bit.

I didn’t know I would love Tanya.

Mesas are for New Mexico, and canyons are for Arizona.

Freeways are for L.A., and everything is covered by an epidermis of dust.

Dust on tablets, dust on toes, dust in eyes,

dust on cars, dust on windows. Dust sticks like guilt.

Somehow, I think I could love the dust too. 

Paper Birds

Slathering homemade glue, they make kites from newspaper

and bamboo. “Mira, look, mira.  Like this. This is how

we did it Teocaltiche.” A father demonstrates how to

structure the body by bowing a wing, fanning a tail.

The children—Gabriel, Diane, Andres, Angelica, Ricky,

Micky, Maggie, Erika, Gloria, Abram, and Xochitl—unroll

across a manicured green lawn, front stoop to black gate.

Safely corralled from Fairmont noise, they work for flight with hands.

Whose black and white bird will catch the wind? Whose will crash

and die? “Yours is full of holes. I’ll call it Patchy.” Ricky baptizes

Maggie’s creation, and one by one they each offer their animals

to the sun, beaks first, yarn tails cascading like quetzal feathers.

At Wabash and Evergreen a little girl exits the corner market

—newly bought saladitos on her tongue—to discover

hand-crafted parrots reaching over rooftops clearing the old synagogue

now new Christian. She imagines the houses turning to paper too

and lifting from concrete. Tonight she will dream

her intestine is the string, she the kite. Tonight she will dream.